You Can’t take an Elephant on the Bus

Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman have teamed up to produce a laugh-out-loud picture book, which promises to be popular with very young readers. Written in rhyme, each delightful page depicts a different animal using a particular mode of transport and explains why it’s unsuitable. The author advises not to ask a whale to ride a bike. ‘Just imagine what it would be like/– without a bottom to sit on the seat./ And how would he pedal without any feet?’ The absurd situations invite lively discussion and would encourage problem-solving.

The modes of transport chosen will be familiar to young readers, as shopping trolleys, ice-cream vans, trains and aeroplanes among others struggle to hold the disgruntled animals. The double spread illustrations feature detailed childish drawings set against muted coloured backgrounds and patterns. One hilarious picture shows a giraffe with his legs sticking out the pencilled-in windows on a plane, while his head pokes through the roof. Other pages include shaded scribbles of green for tree foliage and other very effective pencil work. I particularly liked the illustration of the pig on a skateboard. The attention to detail is wonderful, even to the sparse hairs standing up on the pig’s back as his ‘trotters totter’. The vocabulary in this story is rich and the text is laid out in a haphazard style, matching the chaos of each situation. 

However, a solution is at hand that should suit everyone.